Tag Archives: unsinkable unthinkable plots

Zoo – Is This The Silliest Show On TV?

So, years ago – yes, I’m that lazy – I was thinking of making Bad Movies a regular thing on this blog. Although somehow I missed everything but the soundtrack first time around, I wallowed through polished Eighties turd Cocktail and came out the other side wondering how on earth Tom Cruise ever had an acting career after that one. In the interim I cued up another likely stinker – Days of Thunder – and pretty much Adam Sandler’s entire post Happy Gilmore oeuvre.

Needless to say, my Netflix recommendations look…bad. The white text at the top should probably read ‘lasciate ogne speranza voi c’he entrate’, but Netflix hasn’t read Dante so instead I get ‘wacky eighties comedies’, which is much the same thing really.

It was mostly laziness that stopped me from keeping it up, but it was also a period of time where nobody watched movies any more. It was all TV, and in the main it was all very, very good TV. The kind of TV that stomped along in the huge footprints of The Sopranos, and did it very well. House of Cards. Breaking Bad, and its shockingly good spinoff Better Call Saul. And now Stranger Things – I mean, look at that fucking thing. It’s beautiful. It’s like Netflix’s kneeling, hands-clasped apology for commissioning three series of Hemlock Grove.

So yeah. There wasn’t really a great deal of stuff to point and laugh at, except maybe for Hemlock Grove and the bog-awful Sons of Anarchy, and they – like a lot of the bad stuff – wasn’t point-and-laugh bad. Just deathly dull.

But then there was Zoo.

Full disclosure, when I started watching Zoo I was down with a vicious stomach bug. So it might have been feverishness and a lack of food that made me laugh as loud and hard as I did. This show is insane. It’s dementedly awful in a shrieking, so-bad-it’s-good way that I haven’t seen since the dizzy days of Footballer’s Wives. And I’m told they’re doing a third series. Magical. Continue reading

Writer’s Block And Other Myths (Mostly sasquatches)

Some books are easy to write. Whether it’s a character, an idea or a setting, sometimes something grabs you so hard that its impossible not to write it down. In the most serendipitous of these moments, the thing that grabs you is so grabby and so good that you can blast past the initial uncertainty and even flick two merry middle fingers to the dreaded Mid-Book Blahs.

The other extreme is a much more familiar story. It’s the one where you’re just putting words on page without much clue about what you’re actually doing or any real enthusiasm for the wordmatter you’re forcing yourself to excrete, two thousand words at a time. It’s those times when you’re staring at the screen wondering how the pink, frilly hell you got into this state in the first place, when the extent of the upfuckage seems so severe that nothing short of gasoline, a match and maybe a judicious ploughing of the earth with salt is ever going to even atone for the dreadful mess you’ve made, never mind clean it up.

At the very worst extreme it’s the point where everything grinds to a halt and you become that most pointless of creatures – a writer who doesn’t actually write anything.

This is usually the moment where a lot of people start blaming that mythical friend of all pun-inclined forum headers – the dreaded writer’s block. Before I can get into any more of the reasons why your novel might be stalled, we need to talk about writer’s block.

There is no such thing as Writer’s Block.

Look at it. Just look at what I just typed. Look at that fucker sitting there in the heading line like it’s an actual thing. I even gave it capitals. I don’t even give the sasquatch capitals and the sasquatch is more real than writer’s bullshit block.

Writer’s block is a myth. It does not exist. If you want to write, you will write. It’s that simple. There’s nothing stopping you. There is no magical anti-muse working against you. Writer’s block is bullshit. Say it out loud. Say it louder. There – doesn’t that feel better already?

Now, you may be side-eyeing this advice, which is fine. You may be thinking that it took Joseph Heller ten years to write Catch-22, and that James Joyce’s existence was a daily brawl with the written word when he would have much rather have been knocking out farty love letters to Nora. One of Joyce’s friends, so the legend goes, found James Joyce prostrate and groaning over his desk one day and asked him how the book was going. “How many words today, Jim?” the friend asked, only to meet with the despondent reply – “Seven.”

The friend attempted to cheer Joyce up by telling him that seven was better than nothing and that actually seven was pretty good going, for him, at which point the author raised his head from the desk and wailed “But I don’t know what order they go in!”

If you’ve read much of Joyce’s work – particularly Ulysses – you might understand the great man’s frustration. Every word, line and even punctuation mark in Joyce’s work is carefully considered and measured for shape, strength, pun capacity, resonance, texture and wit. It nearly drove him mad on numerous occasions, but the point is that Ulysses is complete. It’s done. If poor old brainstrained James Joyce can get from Stately plump Buck Mulligan all the way to yes, I said yes I will yes, then what the hell is your excuse?

If you’re citing – as the Bukowski poem goes – ‘light and air and time and space’ as the reasons why you can’t write, then maybe do something else. Find another form of creative expression that you like. Nobody cares that you can’t write unless you have the right chair and the right music and all your pencils are sharpened in a very specific way – we’ve all been there. Anyone who has ever put words on a page – either as a hobby or a profession – has at some point indulged in sometimes byzantine methods of procrastination, sometimes to the point of building entire houses in order to have the ‘perfect creative space’.

And it’s all pointless. It’s all utterly useless. If you find yourself tooling around in this way, maybe it’s time to ask yourself if you really want to do this at all. It’s not an easy question to ask yourself, and you may not like the answer, but that’s all it is – ‘writer’s block’, procrastination – call it what you will. It’s nothing more than your own laziness and reluctance to commit to a thing that – when you get right down to it – is actually a whole lot of fun.

Once you get past that and the answer is still ‘yes, I want to write’, it becomes much easier to stare down the real obstacles to writing (work, time, family) and make the time to write.

Stripped of its demonic, mythological status, writer’s block is often nothing more than a perfect storm of problems – plot problems, pacing problems, character problems or just outright problems with the entire premise of a novel in the first place. These are scary things to face, but like most problems they can be a) overcome, b) worked around or c) thrown screaming from a precipice into a gigantic pit of fire, scorpions and spikes.

I won’t lie – when it comes to problems, I have a sentimental fondness for option C.

Things You May Have Mistaken For Writer’s Block

  1. Your main character has suffered a radical personality shift halfway through the book and you don’t know how to deal with it. Relax. This can be fixed.
  2. You look back at the first half of your novel and realise that it not only has pacing problems but could be used to euthanise coma patients by gently sapping their will to keep breathing. Once again, relax. This can be fixed.
  3. You have no idea what happens next. Take a deep breath, pull up a notepad and relax. This can be fixed.
  4. The thing that was supposed to happen next has not happened next and you’ve rambled off wildly into an experimental mess. Calm down. The solution may hurt, but only for a moment. This can be fixed.
  5. Laziness. Admittedly this one is the most difficult to fix.

Fifty Shades Freed: Daddy Issues

I love looking at my blog’s search engine terms. They have a mad, weird poetry all of their own, occasionally hilarious and frequently disgusting. In response to the curious soul who came here via the question ‘why doesn’t Christian Grey like anyone touching his chest,’ the answer is “Because he’s a poorly written fictional character who used to be a crap vampire with no pulse.”

I know that probably doesn’t help, but trust me – it really is that stupid.

Anyway, on with the recap. Continue reading

Fifty Shades Freed: The Couple That Bullies Together…

Last time on Fifty Shades Freed, there was some sort of car chase and Christian put a thing up Ana’s bum. It wasn’t important.

Later, in a truly shocking development, Ana did some work. Sort of. Well, actually she opened her laptop, decided to look at her honeymoon photographs and worked herself into such a state that she had to seek out her worthless skid-mark of a husband for reassurance. Said skid-mark was playing CSI with the security footage from his office and managed to magically enhance the footage (because you can totally do that) to reveal that the arsonist was in fact…wait for it…Jack Hyde!

But you knew that anyway, right? Sure you did. Because unlike the characters in this book, you have more than four braincells.

Anyway. Where were we? Oh yes. You know how Ana was bellyaching about not changing her name to his at work, and how there will probably be a fight about that? Yeah – well. Here comes the fight. And holy shit, it’s stupid and annoying even by the standards of all their other stupid and annoying fights.

Continue reading

Fifty Shades Speed: Stultifying Sat-Nav Car Chase Edition

Welcome back. In chapters one to four, some things happened, but none of them were important or interesting. There was quite a lot of sex, but again, it wasn’t very interesting. And someone set fire to Christian’s office, which was extremely foolish of them – a) because he wasn’t in it at the time and b) because why on earth would you set fire to this man’s office when you could be setting fire to his pubic hair?

Anyway, the fire wasn’t important, even though it’s definitely arson. Nothing is going to cut into Ana and Christian’s honeymoon, especially not the plot.

Chapter Five

Chapter Five sees Ana waking up (what’s new?) to freak out because her husband is not in bed beside her, but it’s okay, because he’s ‘watching me from the small, upholstered armchair by the bed’. The creepy fuck.  Continue reading

Fifty Shades Shallower – “It’s only a small luxury yacht, darling.”

These chapters go on forever. I just read chapters three and four and my brain has gone numb. I am so bored. If hell is real there is a level that even Dante couldn’t imagine – a level that is just one huge library. And every single one of the books in it is Fifty Shades Freed. There is nothing else to read – not even the fire drill instructions (if they have such a thing in Hell) or the EXIT sign (they probably have those in Hell – just to fuck with you) and you have to read Fifty Shades Freed forever and ever and ever, until your brain is made of the same bland, moronic porridgy substance as the book itself. And you drool and smile vacantly and nod. Because you love him. At last. You love Christian Grey.

Right. Yes. Sorry. Continue reading

Fifty Shades – The Revenge!

It’s nearly October, and so that means it’s nearly time for NaNoWriMo, that exciting time of the year when everyone loads up on caffeine and Halloween candy and writes uneven novels about zombies.

I’ve known for several months now what was on my schedule for NaNo; the final installment of the Fifty Shades of Neigh trilogy – Fifty Shades Later, An Inevitable Conclusion.

Of course, the trouble with writing parodies of the Fifty Shades trilogy is that I actually end up having to read the fucking things. This is painful for me and probably kind of fun for you, because you get to watch me wail, scream and curse God for letting this happen. I am currently eyeballing Fifty Shades Freed, the final soggy installment in this tepid trilogy. The dotty line under the title is so long that my Kindle almost needs a wider screen. Worse, I’m told that this is the ‘least interesting’ of the three books. I’m not sure how this is even possible, although once upon a time I didn’t think anything could be more pointless and boring than Fifty Shades of Grey; that was before I read Fifty Shades Darker.

Good lord. So if Fifty Shades Darker was the inferior sequel, what does this make Freed? Am I about to read the crap porn equivalent of Jaws 3? Hold me. I’m scared.  Continue reading